All seminars will take place on Wednesdays from 4:10 to 5 p.m. from Sept. 21 through Nov. 30 in 122 Briggs Hall. This is a change from the noon-hour sessions held in previous years. The seminars are open to all interested persons.
Wednesday, Sept. 21:
Rick Karban, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Topic: "Climate Change and Populations of a Herbivorous Moth"
Wednesday, Oct. 5:
Meredith Cenzer, doctoral candidate, Louie Yang lab
Topic: ""Ecological and Evolutionary Interactions Between Soapberry Bugs (Jadera Haematoloma) and Their Host Plants" (exit seminar)
Wednesday, Oct. 12:
Howard Ferris, emeritus professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Topic: "Roles of Nematodes in Soil Ecology and Soil Health"
Wednesday, Oct. 19
Justin Whitehill, postdoctoral research associate
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Topic: "Carbon Castles and the Physical Defense of Conifers Against Insect Invaders"
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Marek Borowiec, formerly of the Phil Ward lab and now with the lab of Christian Rabeling, an evolutionary biologist working on ants. The lab is located in Rochester, N.Y., but will be moving in January to Tempe, AZ in January. Borowiec received his doctorate in June from UC Davis.
Topic: "Genomic Data and the Tree of Life: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns of Army Ant Evolution" (exit seminar)
Wednesday, Nov. 2
Sandy Olkowski, doctoral candidate, lab of Thomas Scott (now emeritus professor of entomology)
"Temporal Inconsistency of Dengue Fever Surveillance in Iquitos, Peru" (exit seminar)
Wednesday, Nov. 9
Hugh Dingle, emeritus professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Mikah Freedman, graduate student, Center for Population Biology
Topic:"Monarchs in the Pacific: Contemporary Evolution or Local Ecology?"
Wednesday, Nov. 16 (this is rescheduled for Jan. 18)
Diane Ullman, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Topic: "Thrips Salivary Glands: The Relevance of Tissue Tropism and Gene Expression to Tospovirus"
Wednesday, Nov. 30
Phil Ward, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Topic: "Exploring the Ant Tree-of-Life"
Wednesday, Dec. 7
Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
"How Can We Help Bees Via Research? The Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health and Well Being."
For further information, contact:
Christian Nansen, seminar coordinator: email@example.com
Jessica Padilla, graduate program coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Dr. Ehler had a remarkable career at UC Davis,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “In his research he built upon fundamental investigations in integrated pest management (IPM) to provide practical biological control for many different systems. Les was both a national leader in the discipline of biological control, and an outstanding citizen of the department and university.”
Dr. Ehler, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1973 and retired in January 2008, was the first biological control specialist on campus and was known as the “quintessential biological control researcher.”
For four decades he championed the use of natural enemies to control agricultural pests and warned of the dangers of pesticides.
Dr. Ehler co-edited the 1990 book, Critical Issues in Biological Control and served four years as president and four years as past president of the International Organization for Biological Control. He also chaired the Entomological Society of America's Biological Control Section.
At UC Davis, Dr. Ehler battled pests such as obscure scale and aphids on oaks, stink bugs on tomato, aphids on sugar beet and white fir, and beet armyworm on alfalfa and sugar beet. His expertise ranges from the theory and practice of biological control to the ecology and management of insects and mites in natural, agricultural and urban environments.
“Les was a meticulous researcher and an excellent applied field ecologist,” said colleague and close friend Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Entomology. “When he took on a research project, you were confident the project would be conducted well and all aspects of the system considered. He made major contributions to our understanding of stink bug ecology and biological control of stink bugs. Les was also excellent at transferring his knowledge via classroom teaching.”
In the late 1990s, Dr. Ehler discovered that pill bugs, also known as roly-poly bugs, prey on the eggs of stink bugs. Up to then, most entomologists classified pill bugs as strictly vegetarians. Stink bugs, major agricultural pests, suck the juices from legume and brassica seeds and fruit of other crops.
In the early 1980s, Dr. Ehler led the Davis team that documented the environmental impact of malathion-bait sprays used to eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly. The organophosphate was credited with killing the medfly, but also beneficial insects such as honey bees, and natural enemies of various insect pests.
In one study, Dr. Ehler assessed the non-target effects of malathion in the Bay Area. His studies in Woodside, a San Mateo County community on the San Francisco Peninsula, revealed that populations of a native gall midge exploded 90 times the normal level. Ehler compared the gall midge population in Woodside -- where planes sprayed up to 24 malathion applications -- to the untouched Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve near Stanford University. The gall midge is a gnatlike insect pest that lays its eggs in plants; the burrowing larvae form galls.
Dr. Ehler also helped organic farmers solve problems. He designed a stink bug management program for Yolo County organic farmer Robert Ramming of Pacific Star Gardens after learning of the stink bug invasion in his tomato fields.
“The stink bugs were overwintering in his backyard and in the spring, emerging to dine on mustard and then tomatoes,” Dr. Ehler noted in the feature story. “Stink bugs don't seem to prefer tomatoes — they like mustard and wild radish — but when these hosts were plowed under and no longer available, the bugs went for the tomatoes.” Solution: Don't cut the mustard. Plow it under only when the stink bugs aren't a threat to the tomatoes — that is, before they develop wings and disperse.
Quotes from the January 2008 feature story:
- Yolo County organic farmer Robert Ramming of Pacific Star Gardens: “Les determined what stink bugs prefer, their habitat and where they were overwintering. “We planted a five-foot strip of ‘trap' or ‘bribe' crops (mustard and wild radish) around the tomato fields and got rid of 90 percent of the stink bugs.”
- Rachael Long, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Yolo, Solano, Sacramento counties: “I greatly admire Les for his contributions to IPM that have helped us better understand the biology of some of our major agricultural pests and how to manage them. Les is one of those extraordinary field researchers with a broad knowledge of entomology that make him a great resource for information. In collaborating with Les on various projects I have a much better understanding on how landscapes impact IPM in cropping systems which I believe will help conservation efforts and improve pest control in our agricultural systems.”
- Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, then professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology: “Les began teaching biocontrol classes for our department in 1974, drawing hundreds of students. He was trained in the 1960s by the founders of integrated pest management (IPM) and he advocated biological control methods as an important IPM pest control strategy. His work led to a better understanding of how predators and parasites can control pests without pesticides.”
- Entomologist Michael Parrella, then associate dean of agricultural sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: “Les was the first faculty member hired in the Department of Entomology to teach and advance the science and practice of biological control. Trained in classical biological control at UC Berkeley, he was the heart and soul of biological control at UC Davis, and worked in many biological systems from tomatoes to urban landscapes. For many years, Les maintained his own USDA-certified quarantine laboratory which allowed him to work with biological control agents from all over the world. He was a meticulous researcher who maintained a ‘hands-on' approach with all the projects done in his laboratory and he trained many students who are now leaders in the field of biological control around the world.”
Emeritus professor Harry Kaya of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology said of his close friend and colleague:
"Les and I overlapped as graduate students at UC Berkeley and I have known him for over 45 years. We were reunited as faculty members at UC Davis when I joined the department in 1976. Les was the quintessential entomologist specializing in classical biological control. His research was always thorough and complete and others have commented on his many contributions to the discipline. We co-taught a class on biological control for many years; he covered the theory and application of parasitoids and predators and I did the lectures on pathogens. Les made sure that the students understood the basis for the theoretical aspects of biological control and their application in the field. In the laboratory portion of the class, he took the students into the field to show them biological control agents in action and developed a useful pictorial handout for identifying the common parasitoids and predators found in California. Even in retirement, he assisted farmers in dealing with the stink bug problems in tomatoes."
"Les was the most organized person that I know. Everything in his research lab and office and home had a place and was neatly and logically organized," Kaya noted. "A few years before he retired, he had a plan on what he wanted to do and purchased a fishing boat. The first time we went out, it was clearly a case of the blind leading the blind. We lost more fishing gear without getting a single bite. Les did not see this as a setback, but as a learning experience. He went fishing with professional guides, learned from them, and became an excellent fisherman. He not only took me but many others fishing for striped bass in the Delta, salmon and striped bass in the Sacramento River, and trout, bass, and kokanee at Lake Berryessa."
"I have lost a good friend and colleague. I will miss the many entomological and other stories and his sense of humor we shared on our fishing trips."
Born Jan. 6, 1946 in Lubbock County, Texas and reared on a family farm near the small town of Idalou, Les Ehler received his bachelor's degree in entomology from Texas Tech University, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley. He joined UC Davis in 1973 as an assistant professor, advancing in 1985 to professor of entomology and entomologist in the UC Davis Experiment Station. Dr. Ehler was an avid fisherman and enjoyed fishing, particularly for sturgeon and salmon.
He is survived by his son Brian of Susanville, Calif., and daughter Mary Ehler Yung and husband, Eric, of Sacramento, and granddaughters Emma Yung and Georgiana Grace Yung. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Joseph, and sister Loretta. He is survived by brothers Eugene (Mary) of Denton, TX, Howard (Rita) of Midland, TX and sisters Jan Chapman (Carl) of Houston, TX and Amy Willingham of Irving, TX. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
The Society of Nematologists (SON) will present him with its Teaching Excellence Award at its 55th annual meeting, set July 17 – 21 in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Caswell-Chen, who joined the UC Davis Department of Nematology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) in 1989, was praised as being an “exemplary teacher who loves to teach and interact with his students.”
“Ed is known for his enthusiasm, dedication, high-quality instruction and keen interest in helping his students understand and appreciate nematology—from the undergraduate level to the graduate level and beyond,” his nominators said.
“If I had to distill my endorsement of Ed into a single sentence, it would be that he has unbridled passion and dedication when it comes to getting undergraduates excited about science,” said nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His dedication to teaching is truly altruistic, and although he has maintained a solid program of research, his major effort in recent years has involved teaching undergraduate and graduate students.”
Over the last five years, Caswell-Chen has taught 24 undergraduate courses, enrolling some 2400 students. His commitment to teaching includes five years of service as associate dean of the Graduate Program, UC Office of Graduate Studies. He is a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Nematology, and the Graduate Group in Ecology.
Caswell-Chen, who considers teaching his No. 1 priority, says the classroom is “an important forum for communication with students, and an opportunity for outreach with respect to the Agricultural Experiment Station mission, especially when lecturing to undergraduates in nematology, animal biology, and science and society courses.” His students describe his courses as informative, interesting and engaging.
Caswell-Chen said his philosophy of teaching “is that to be effective, teaching must engage students by highlighting the relevance of course material, and instructors must capture student attention through enthusiasm and supportive stimulation of student creativity. Interaction helps students learn how to think, ask questions, and form connections among the diverse facts they learn in their courses.”
“If students are participating and engrossed with the topic in the classroom, they don't immediately realize that they are learning—they are carried along by their thinking and engagement with the material,” he said. “All of these features of effective classroom instruction are relatively easy to attain when the subject matter is nematology—and biology, for that matter—because of the field's many fascinating and relevant aspects. In a nematology course, one can incorporate a wide range of intriguing topics, from nematode biodiversity and the deep, hot biosphere to soil ecology, to the fascinating interactions between nematodes and other organisms, to the importance of animal parasites and means for their management, to plant parasites, nematicides, and genetic engineering of crop plants for nematode resistance, to topics in aging and neurobiology from research on the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.”
Caswell-Chen is known for his research on the life history and ecology of C. elegans, a free-living or non-parasitic nematode that lives in temperate soil environments.
His interest and dedication to undergraduate education is reflected in his current service as the chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate Undergraduate Council, membership on the UC system-wide Educational Policy Committee, and his recent appointment as vice chair of that same Educational Policy Committee for the coming academic year.
UC Davis researcher Kristi Sanchez, former undergraduate student who received her doctorate from him in 2014 and served as his teaching assistant, described him as “the best professor I've ever had.”
“I have not met another professor at UC Davis who not just focuses on his research but enjoys, loves and wants to make teaching classes a priority for undergraduate students,” Sanchez said. “He is always about the students and making sure they understand the material. He always goes out of his way to provide more office hours so they can learn the material better or ask questions. And he is a professor who has the students text him instead of emailing him. The students love it.”
She credited him with inspiring her to pursue her degree and career in nematology. “Ed has given me many opportunities to pursue research questions that I would like to investigate, provides great advice and not just as a major professor but a father figure. He has pushed me to follow my goals and with my hard work, anything is possible.”
Said graduate student Chris Pagan, who has known Caswell-Chen for 12 years, beginning as an undergraduate student and then as a lab technician: “Ed makes the classroom a comfortable place. He is always approachable, and always genuinely interested in hearing what students have to say. Ed is always revising his lecture material and methods. He is constantly seeking new ways to keep students engaged.”
Nematologist Becky Westerdahl, UC Davis professor of entomology and nematology, praised Caswell-Chen for his excellence in teaching and as “one of the first professors at UC Davis to embrace the use of World Wide Web technology for teaching…He was instrumental in obtaining, establishing and maintaining the first web server for teaching in the Department of Nematology.” She said Caswell-Chen provides his students with “an excellent foundation, not just as future researchers, but as future educators as well.”
Caswell-Chen also teaches animal biology courses and Science and Society courses. He sometimes teaches freshman seminars by using the Campus Book Project selections, such as “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” and “Half the Sky.” He has also taught his own selection of topics, including “The Ancient Middle East: Cradle of Civilization, Religion and Science” and “Protest Songs.”
Caswell-Chen received his bachelor's and master's degrees in botany and plant pathology from Michigan State University in 1979 and 1982, respectively, and his doctorate in 1985 in plant pathology from UC Riverside. He began his academic career in 1985 as an assistant professor in the University of Hawaii's Department of Plant Pathology before joining the UC Davis faculty in 1989.
He will receive the award in September at the ESA meeting in Orlando, Fla., being held in conjunction with the International Congress of Entomology (ICE).
Loeb's laboratory is located at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., where he has research and extension responsibilities for grapes and small fruit crops.
Loeb received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1989, studying with Professor Rick Karban. He earlier (1977) received his bachelor's degree at UC Davis, majoring in vertebrate zoology. "I was really into ornithology as an undergraduate but shifted to insect ecology as I was finishing up my master's (in ecology) at San Diego State," he said.
Excerpts from the ESA award announcement:
"Broadly speaking, his research focuses on species interactions involving plants, herbivores, natural enemies, and, more recently, microbes, with the specific applied goal of developing novel approaches to pest management. Along with collaborators, his research on tritrophic interactions involving leaf morphology (acarodomatia) and predatory and mycophagous mites has established new directions in plant breeding for enhancing conservation biological control.
"He is currently directing considerable research effort toward developing a better understanding of the biology and management of the invasive species spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), a significant pest of soft-skinned fruit crops throughout much of North America and abroad. Projects include the chemical ecology and behavior of host finding as a basis for behavioral management, overwintering and spring biology, monitoring and decision making, interactions with microbes, including biological control with entomopathogens, mechanical control using netting, and optimizing chemical control.
"Other research projects ongoing in his lab include vector-pathogen interactions and biological control and pollination ecosystem services. In addition to research and extension responsibilities, he co-teaches a course on grape pest management and serves as program leader for the Department of Entomology and Geneva Experiment Station."
IPM specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, received the Excellence in IPM award in 2010. His former PhD student, Douglas Walsh, now a professor at Washington State University, won the award in 2013. See list of other recipients.
(Editor's Note: Richard Levine of ESA contributed to this news story.)
And that's grounds for concern, researchers say.
Agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and four colleagues analyzed 15 brands of roasted coffee beans, purchased at an area supermarket on two dates about six months apart, and using hyperspectral imaging technology, found “they were all over the board.”
“There was no consistency in the protein/sugar content and within the roasting classes of light, medium, medium dark, and dark or between sampling dates,” said Nansen, who specializes in insect ecology and remote sensing and uses imaging technology to quantify variability and identify trends and patterns in biological systems. “I thought this would be interesting to apply my hyperspectral imaging technology to a commercial system rather than a biological system.”
The research, “Using Hyperspectral Imaging to Characterize the Consistency of Coffee Brands and Their Respective Roasting Classes" is published in the current edition of the Journal of Food Engineering. Hyperspectral imaging involves collecting and processing information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Co-authors of the paper are postdoctoral research Keshav Singh of the Nansen lab; assistant professor Christopher Simmons and doctoral candidate Brittany Allison, both in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology; and Ajmal Mian of the University of Western Australia's Computer Science and Software Engineering.
The study is not only relevant to the coffee industry and consumers but to a wide range of commercial food and beverage brands, Nansen said. Statistics show that Americans, the leading consumers of coffee in the world, consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. They spend an average of $21 per week on coffee.
Nansen, a coffee drinker, came by the topic naturally and also out of curiosity. “I got interested in this topic because I like coffee but also because I am certain that many food and beverage products vary markedly in quality. I thought this would be interesting to apply my hyperspectral imaging technology to a commercial system rather than a biological system.”
“The uniqueness and consistency of commercial food and beverage brands are critically important for their marketability,” the researchers wrote in the abstract. “Thus, it is important to develop quality control tools and measures, so that both companies and consumers can monitor whether a given food product or beverage meets certain quality expectations and/or is consistent when purchased at different times or at different locations.”
“We acquired hyperspectral imaging data (selected bands out of 220 narrow spectral bands from 408 nanometers to 1008 nanometers from ground samples of the roasted coffee beans, and reflectance-based classification of roasting classes was associated with fairly low accuracy.”
Their research provides evidence that the “combination of hyperspectral imaging and a general quality indicator (such as extractable protein content) can be used to monitor brand consistency and quality control,” the scientists wrote. “We demonstrated that a non-destructive method, potentially real-time and automated, and quantitative method can be used to monitor the consistence of a highly complex beverage product.”
The research was funded in part by Mian's ARC Fellowship.